By Tyson Thorne

June 12, 2019

John 8 Large

John chapter three begins with a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. John tells us that Nicodemus was a member of the Jewish ruling council, and Jesus refers to him as "the teacher of Israel." We know that he was a leading Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin. There are a few things we can learn about Nicodemus immediately. First, he is not trying to trap Jesus as other Pharisees tried to do, for he came to Jesus at night, alone, for a one-on-one conversation. Second, he didn't have the courage to let his fellow councilmen know he thought Jesus might be the Messiah.

He is a bit careful in this meeting (some might say cowardly), and showed Jesus respect by calling him, the young man from the wrong side of the tracks, "Rabbi". Once past the pleasantries, Nicodemus discloses the reason for his visit. Like John the Baptist after his imprisonment, Nicodemus wants to know if Jesus is the one that they have been waiting for. He wants to hear it from Jesus' lips. Before we go much further, though, we should notice that there is more to this conversation than what appears on the surface. The author arranged the conversation as a chiasm.

A chaism is a form of Jewish poetry where parallel lines occur top and bottom and guide the reader to the center where the main point is made. Often these can be identified even in a translation, but is something that will be missed in a paraphrase like The Message. If you can, try to follow along in your Bible as we bounce back and forth to discover the main idea of this conversation.

In verse two we see that Nicodemus comes at night. In verse 20 Jesus comments that, "For everyone who does evil deeds hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds will not be exposed." Jesus is expressing knowledge of Nicodemus' intentions.

Also in verse two, Nicodemus acknowledges the miracles that Jesus has performed. In verse 18 Jesus responds by saying that those who believe in him are saved and those that do not are condemned. The message to Nicodemus is clear.

In verse three Jesus talks about being born from above, and in the very well known verse 16 tells him that God shows his love to the world by sending his son, the salvation of mankind.

In verse six Jesus starts to talk about being born of water and spirit, then in verse 14 talks about being lifted up. This point might not be as clear to modern readers as the others. The point of Moses lifting up the serpent on his staff was so that those who looked upon it would not die, just as those who are born of water and spirit.

Finally, we get to the center of the passage, verse 11: "I tell you the solemn truth, we speak about what we know and testify about what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony." John's point is that we, the reader, are to believe the testimony of those who witnessed these events.

Tomorrow we'll look at this passage as a normal conversation, for there is much to be learned there as well.

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